Home Sport GAA Preview of all Sunday’s SFC action

Preview of all Sunday’s SFC action

Preview of all four of today's games
Preview of all four of today's games

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We’re getting to the midpoint of the football championships and after tonight, four more teams will be finished for the year.

Two of them will be delighted to be finished though – as this morning sees the two SFC relegation semi-finals down for decision.

At 12pm in Portarlington, Clonaslee-St Manman’s Gaels and Mountmellick Gaels will do battle in the first of them.

While the second semi-final sees outgoing county champions Stradbally face Arles-Kilcruise at 1pm in Ratheniska.

We then have a break for a couple of hours before the action returns to O’Moore Park for the final pair of SFC Round 3 games.

After wins for Arles-Killeen and O’Dempsey’s last night, Killeshin will be hoping to join them in the quarter finals but The Heath stand in their way at 6pm.

Then we have the clash of St Joseph’s and Ballyfin Gaels, the side who knocked out Stradbally, at 7.30pm.

Here, we will delve into each game in greater detail:

SFC Relegation SF – Clonaslee St Manman’s Gaels v Mountmellick Gaels

A battle between two Gaels teams who have found life hard going this year.

Mountmellick won Division 2 of the league on their own but their Gaels team with Castletown lost both of their first two championship matches to send them into relegation danger.

They began against Ballylinan in Ratheniska, the only senior championship game to be played outside of O’Moore Park before these ones, and lost by 1-13 to 1-7.

Mountmellick then went on to play Arles-Killeen and despite leading by five points early on, a leaky defence saw them go down by 2-17 to 2-11.

Clonaslee-St Manman’s Gaels were competitive in both of their defeats – without ever really looking like winning either of them.

They made it difficult for St Joseph’s before Brendan Hickey’s goal helped them to a 1-12 to 0-7 win.

The Gaels then went on to play Crettyard and were level as we entered the closing stages before going down by 1-12 to 1-9.

This will be close but with Clonaslee hoping the Annanough lads can get over their own relegation on Friday night, this could go Mountmellick’s way.

ODDS – Mountmellick Gaels 4/7, Clonaslee-St Manman’s Gaels 7/4, Draw 13/2

Verdict: Mountmellick Gaels

SFC Relegation SF – Arles-Kilcruise v Stradbally

At the start of the year, this is probably the last pairing that you would predict to end up in a relegation semi-final.

Stradbally began the year as county champions but are now in danger of dropping to Intermediate after losing both of their games so far.

Martin Murphy’s men were carved apart by The Heath in Round 1 and lost 3-10 to 1-12.

They were expected to recover and beat Ballyfin Gaels two weeks ago but their defensive frailties were on show again and despite a spirited late comeback, they were defeated by 0-18 to 3-8.

Arles-Kilcruise can consider themselves unlucky to be in this position.

Johnny Irwin’s side came up against what looks to be an unbeatable Portlaoise team in Round 1 and lost 3-13 to 1-14.

Neighbours Killeshin provided Round 2 opposition and an excellent game saw another defeat for Kilcruise by 1-16 to 2-15.

Stradbally have injury concerns over John Donohue, Liam Knowles and Damien Murphy so it looks like the County champions could be headed for the relegation decider.

ODDS – Stradbally 4/6, Arles-Kilcruise 6/4, Draw 13/2

Verdict: Arles-Kilcruise

SFC R3 – Killeshin v The Heath

Will this be the year that Killeshin make the breakthrough?

Well, their displays in the SFC so far suggest that they could be primed to do just that.

In Round 1, they went toe-to-toe with neighbours Graiguecullen where two defensive lapses cost them in a 2-11 to 0-15 defeat.

Another neighbourly clash lay in store in Round 2 where Arles-Kilcruise were the challengers but this time Killeshin came out on the right side of a 2-15 to 1-16 scoreline.

Like last year, The Heath opened their campaign against the reigning County Champions.

But unlike what happened against Portlaoise, they got past Stradbally by 2-10 to 1-12.

They then faced Killeshin’s conquerors Graiguecullen in Round 2 but after leading for long periods, lost by 0-10 to 0-8.

One thing that Killeshin’s two games have shown is that they have considerable firepower. If they click up front and find a way to get around the physicality of The Heath, they could do it.

The Heath will have Evin Keane available to them though after he came back from America recently.

ODDS – The Heath 4/6, Killeshin 6/4, Draw 13/2

Verdict: Killeshin

SFC R3 – Ballyfin Gaels v St Joseph’s

The final game of the weekend has the potential to be the best of them all.

When these sides met last year, a number of players were sent off following a mass brawl.

St Joseph’s will be hoping for a repeat of the result – minus the red cards of course – as they won that game comfortably enough.

The Kellyville outfit have had a mixed championship so far.

They defeated Clonaslee-St Manman’s Gaels in Round 1 but were well beaten by Ballylinan two weeks later.

However, the team that played that day could be very different to the one that lines out tonight.

Matty Campion (ankle injury) and Jason Campion (suspended) are out but Adam Campion, Michael Keogh and Danny Hickey have returned from America.

Brian Daly and James Kelly missed the Ballylinan game with injury and they may also be fit while there could also be starts for James Doyle and Kevin Campion.

Ballyfin Gaels lost tamely to O’Dempsey’s in Round 1 but were excellent as they defeated Stradbally in Round 2.

They will need another big performance for Laois County minor Rob Tyrrell in midfield but unless they can find a way to get more from Seán Moore, it’s hard to see them winning this.

ODDS – St Joseph’s 4/9, Ballyfin Gaels 21/20, Draw 15/2

Verdict – St Joseph’s

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.